GN is the forthcoming sophomore album by Chicago post-country band, Ratboys, lead by singer/guitarist Julia Steiner and guitarist Dave Sagan. Drawing influence from Sheryl Crow to Kim Deal and Jenny Lewis, GN has been called “special and personal” by The Fader, NPR praises the “jangle in their twang” and the Chicago Reader says it’s the “unquestionable connection between emo and country.”
Certainly a huge amount of praise, but it’s easy to see why. The brilliant quality of their song writing really does make them stand out from the crowd. First track “Molly” has something of a casual start, but don’t write it off because it develops into a lovely track that will win you over in a heartbeat. There’s a dreamy “lo-fi” feel to it, but it’s far more intricate and delivers far more than just that. Second track “Elvis in the freezer” may have you scratching your head trying to work the title out, but actually reflects on a childhood memory of a cat called Elvis being shut in a freezer. That’s what yo thought in the first place? Oh,ok J
“Westside” is quite simply a brilliant love song so honest and genuine it’s beyond brilliant, with lyrics “I had never loved, another person, until I found your name, on a paper plate in the aeroplane”. Three tracks in and it’s blindingly obvious that Steiner is quite simply one hell of a story teller, direct, sublime, poetic. The opening lines from “Control” of “I almost saw a train wreck, I had to look away” begin to tell the story of a near fatal incident with her younger brother who was four years old at the time.
“Crying about the planets” is inspired by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson, who almost died in Antarctica and only survived by eating his own sled-dogs “one by one” (It was unknown at the time that Husky liver contains extremely high levels of vitamin A. It was also not known that such levels of vitamin A could cause liver damage to humans).
“Dangerous Visions” almost seems like an instrumental but after about a minute and a half, Steiner’s beautiful vocals begin to flow, but that minute and a half really illustrates the Sagan’s superb talent. “Wandered” has something of a darker swagger to it, but somehow seems more familiar and I’m sure it’s something of a dark horse for becoming a favourite track. “GN” (short for Good Night) recounts their tour experiences, whilst “The Record” may seem whimsical, it’s another utterly poignant moment of that “perfect blossom” of love. Final track “Peter The Wild Boy” tells the story of a feral boy being discovered in the Hertswold Forest by a party of hunters led by George I, a true story too!
It’s a wonderfully charming album with some brilliant story-telling, and some dark wit to throw into the mix. What’s not to like?
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